Happy first day of the legal 2021-2022 school year to all of you Pennsylvania homeschoolers! If you are still a little unsure or nervous about what must be done before you can legally start homeschooling in Pennsylvania, don’t worry! We’ve got your covered! Now, how to get started homeschooling in our great state in three easy steps:
How to Start Homeschooling in PA
Step One: Get your affidavit and objectives turned into your school district.
In the state of Pennsylvania, you must turn in a home educator affidavit and objectives once your child is six years old to legally homeschool. Once your affidavit and objectives are turned in you can start counting school days or hours. The Department of Education provides an affidavit for you to fill out, but I think it’s a little bit cumbersome. I really like this affidavit and objectives provided by PA Homeschool Law. These are free to use! Just print, sign, notarize and turn in to the school district assigned to where you live. Then you are good to go.
PS: I Love PA Homeschool Law. It is run by a former homeschool mom with a law degree. It is easy to navigate and full of very useful, up-to-date information.
If you turn these form in to the school district via hand delivery, ask one of the staff for a receipt demonstrating that they have received your child’s documents. If you’d rather send in everything via mail, you will need to visit your local post office to send via Certified Mail with Return Receipt Requested. Either way, you must make sure you have some sort of record that you provided these documents to your district. This step must be completed in order to start counting learning activities toward your 180 required homeschool days.
Step Two: Count your days and log your books.
The next thing you need to do is start counting your days and writing down the books that your student reads. The law says that you must complete 180 school days (or 900 hours for elementary/990 hours for secondary) and you need to keep a log of the books that your student reads. That’s it.
There are many different ways to keep track of homeschooling days or hours. I’ve attached a little grid sheet that I use to count our days. You don’t have to use it: it’s just one that I like. For the reading log, I just put some paper in the front of my portfolio binder (see step three) to keep track of the books read. I hope this printout is helpful.
Step Three: Organize your portfolio.
This may sound a little crazy since portfolios are due at the end of the school year, but I find it incredibly helpful to get each child’s binder organized from the start. It makes things so much easier to handle at the end of a hectic year. Here is what I do:
- Get a binder. Label it with your child’s name and school year on the front and spine.
- Put in eight tabs.
- Label the tabs: English, Math, Social Studies, Science, Safety, PE/Health, Art, and Music. (Combine or delete a section to meet your homeschooling needs.)
- Put all my important papers in the binder for safekeeping. (This includes a copy of the affidavit and objectives with receipt, school days calendar and reading log.)
- As the school year unfolds, put your child’s favorite projects, tests, papers, photos and adventures (usually pamphlets) into the portfolio. Also, keep both tracking sheets up-to-date.
And that is it, folks! You are ready to tackle your homeschooling year!
One last thing: Don’t worry; be happy!
Don’t fret if you have not turned in your affidavit and objectives yet. For returning homeschoolers, you have until August 1st. For new homeschoolers just get it in before you start schooling! As soon as those documents are in, start counting.
PS: I could write a whole post on what “counts.” Don’t even get me started! In short, did it feel schoolish to you? Great, count it. Did they learn something new? Great, count it. Three Rs? Great, count it. Museum, scout camp, VBS, science camp, spontaneously wrote a book about dragons. Great, count it.
Or don’t count it.
YOU are the boss and you, parent, are now your child’s Supervisor of Education!
You choose what counts!
(Legally: New homeschoolers, you need to have the affidavit in before your kid is legally truant, which is missing school for three days. If you don’t send your kiddo to school, you need to have your affidavit and objectives turned in by the third day of the school year.)
Drop any questions you have in the comments, and I will do my best to answer them so we can all start this school year off right!